Roger Goodell: Bears owe it to their fans to consider Arlington Park stadium

The Bears closed on the 326-acre former Arlington International Racecourse property last month and will decide in the coming months whether to pursue building a stadium — in addition to hotels, shops and restaurants — on the property.

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the Bears owe it to their fans to consider building a stadium in Arlington Heights.

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

PHOENIX — Exploring the construction of a stadium in Arlington Heights is something the Bears “owe to their fans,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday at the conclusion of the league’s annual meetings.

The Bears closed on the 326-acre former Arlington International Racecourse property last month and will decide whether to pursue building a stadium — in addition to hotels, shops and restaurants — on the property.

“I think those are things the Bears have to explore,” Goodell said. “How do they continue to see the long-term reputation of their game? A stadium is a big part of that.”

Even if they wouldn’t be, technically, the Chicago Bears.

“They’re not the first team to look at areas outside the city they play in,” Goodell said. “That’s something that’s a natural thing for our clubs to do. They obviously recognize the lease restrictions they’re under. So I think investigating and exploring that is something they owe to the fans and their community.”

The Bears are under a Soldier Field lease through the 2033 season but can pay to break it.

‘Nothing but love’

Packers coach Matt LaFleur spoke as though quarterback Aaron Rodgers had played his last game for Green Bay. Rodgers wants a trade to the Jets.

“I’ve got nothing but love and appreciation for what Aaron has done for so many in our organization,” LaFleur said. “[We] obviously have experienced a lot of great times together, won a lot of football games together. Ultimately, didn’t bring home a Super Bowl, which will always be disappointing.”

Asked whether Rodgers would be welcomed at Packers offseason activities if he wasn’t traded before then, LaFleur said that was between Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and Jets GM Joe Douglas.

It means more

Bears GM Ryan Poles said that his decision to add Chicago-area natives via free agency — linebacker T.J. Edwards is from Lake Villa and tight end Robert Tonyan is from McHenry — was by design.

“There’s something to it for me,” Poles said. “I think you have pride in your local team that you grew up watching, you knew what this club meant to the city and you saw some good times and some good players.

“I think you’re a little bit more motivated to perform at a high level and also lead because you’ve seen guys do it at a high level before you.”

This and that

Although the Bears are one of the teams that could be compelled by the league to appear on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series, chairman George McCaskey continues to have little interest in doing so. He said there were 31 other teams “that have compelling stories to tell.”

† Among new NFL rules that passed Tuesday: allowing players to wear No. 0, kickers to wear 0 to 49 and 90 to 99, and moving from two preseason cut days to one. The Bears were among the teams to propose the cut-day rule, which allows clubs to have larger rosters throughout the preseason. McCaskey said Poles and coach Matt Eberflus “said it was helpful to have that kind of flexibility.”

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